Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite Was The Best Teacher I Ever Had!

Walter Cronkite was the best teacher I ever had. As a young journalist and broadcaster, I was truly lucky to secure an interview with Walter Cronkite. Just a few hours before our meeting, I glanced at his picture and thought he looked old. That momentary glance found its way into every question I asked him. " In your day," I referenced more than a few times and he picked up on my limitation.

Clearly, I had pegged him as a man whose day had passed and he felt it would be wise to teach me a lesson or two. "Liz," he said, "If I were to imagine the causes you are actively involved with, I would venture to say you care about the environment and maybe the PTA and the rights of animals and the ..." and each time he pigeonholed me, I started to resent being projected upon... and then, I got it. That's what I had done to him.

Through example, he illustrated what it feels like to be stereotyped and Walter Cronkite, the consummate gentleman, was able to convey this to me right in the heart of our interview.

Once I surrendered my projection of him as an "old man" I was truly able to see him in his brilliance and to recognize that he had a heart of gold. He cared deeply about our changing world and was concerned about how the media has morphed. He advised the following:

1. Educate Yourself - Don't buy into soundbites
2. Speak Up and Speak Out - it's our right to be heard in America
3. Don't Stereotype - Learn to listen and perceive from your heart
4. Be Proactive - Know you can make a difference

May Walter Cronkite Rest in Peace. I know his memory will live on... in me... forever.
He was the best teacher I ever had.!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

This is a true story....
It was 7 AM and I looked out my bathroom window. I saw a police van and three police cars. My first thought was my son. Was he home in bed, safe and sound? Then I wondered if someone was hurt.... or did I do something wrong?

The doorbell rang. I sent my husband and stayed back, fearful of what I might hear. "Crime," I heard the officer say through the cracked bathroom window where I stowed myself safely. "There was a crime in the neighborhood," he went on to say.

Then the words muffled as husband and the police officers moved toward the street.
"Yes," I heard my husband say. "That is my wife's car." I was dressed by then and walked outside as if on cue .
"Mrs. Sterling, we need to ask you a few questions. OK?" "Of course," I replied.
Do you smoke crack, they asked me. Of course, I don't and they asked me to look into the car seat and to report what I saw. I noticed my car was ransacked and there were glasses on the drivers seat and a long glass rod (aka - Crack Pipe) I confirmed it did not belong to me.
The police notified me that a man was apprehended in my car smoking crack and looking for valuables in the middle of the night. He was in custody and he would be charged as such. I was asked for permission to dust for fingerprints. I agreed.

After the police left, I took my car to be cleaned. I noticed a box I received a year ago from a friend; I had shoved it into the glove compartment. I didn't even know it was there until I held the empty box in hand. It once contained a beautiful kaleidoscope that was handmade in New England. I have a vague memory of it. Never even used it. Never took it into my home. Discarded it and now, I hold an empty box in hand feeling I lost something I didn't even know I had. Funny thing, huh?
Here's the not so funny part.... I had images of the man in my car. All day long I imagined his look, smell, lifestyle, cadence of his voice. I imagined him sitting in my car and it turned out, I relied on all the stereotypes that have conditioned my consciousness. The man who entered my car, ransacked it, smoked crack and left his pipe behind was a 47 year old white Jewish man who has clearly lost his way in life.
I may have lost my kaleidoscope that I didn't even know I had, but what I gained is much more important. I gained compassion for someone who is suffering, acceptance that I let my imagination influence my perception and appreciation that sometime or another, we all lose our way. May Robert, the man who entered my car, find his way. And let us all pray.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why Now? Facebook and Feelings

Why Now? Why is Facebook bringing up so may feelings. And most of them, at best, are reministant of high school.

From day one -- a few weeks ago, it became a contest. How many friends could I get? How many did others have? Would I get in to the right group? Did I have good enough material?

I am not pround of these thoughts... they were showing up as part of my internal dialogue. I didn't plan to be inundated with disruption in my everyday perception. It just sneaked up on me.

Should Facebook be for self promotions? For community gatherings, For self- indulgences? For connecting with old friends?

No matter what my take is on it ... it's happening on every level and clearly, bringing people together. In my case, it's bringing me into my old patterns of thinking and feeling.

And I can tell you for sure, this feeling thing... is unnerving. I thought all my adolescent insecurities were over. The occasional competitive edge is OK, even healthy. But wanting to be in with the right group at 50 is really weird -- or sad -- or--- an opportunity.

Ram Dass once said that the shadow thoughts will never leave entirely. They are likely to submerge under the surface, show up less often, but they are still with us. This Facebook craze may very well be a parting of the waters. At least it is for me.

"So use it Liz,' I hear myself say. 'Stay with the feelings, discern what is true. Be who you are.. that's the great stuff we are all made of." And I hear myself in what I say to others... Focus on the good, you will see more of it. Listen and learn... insights are delights.

So, I stay connected --explore more and emerge each day a bit more excited to join my friends on Facebook. Facebook and feelings. If not now... when?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sublime Surrender

Krishna Das taught me about sublime surrender in Miami on Valentine's Day. Before heading down south, I braced myself for the crowd. Not too many devotees of Neem karoli Baba and Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, make their way to these parts of the world.

No ticket in hand but a promise from a friend of a friend to purchase me a ticket was all that was offered upon arrival at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

I had to find this woman... although I didn't know what she looked like. A woman with dreadlocks was all I had to go on. Christie was her name. She held my fate in her waiting list hand ..number...62. All in all over 200 people were on the wait list.

Hundreds -- hundreds of people waited in line. Some had not checked in and others were holding a place in line to get a prime position at the pew. A waiting list room was airless and the energy rivaled the twirling chaos before the big bang. All I wanted to do was escape. I've got to get out of here, I thought. crazy crazy energy...

Up until this point in my life, I haven't let on, except to a few close friends, that I avoid crowds at all costs. Something in my energy body goes haywire and I lose all sense of self.

So wouldn't you know, while heading to the waiting room, down a long narrow corridor, I blew a gasket and started to vibrate with ricocheting energy. Shaking internally and sweating externally, I saw an open door and made a beeline.

I was intercepted by a man who asked what I needed. Mumbling somewhat incoherently, I indicated that space was all I needed. QUIET space. He ushered me into a small room that offered cushions, I placed one on the floor - took up half lotus position and began to chant OM.

The man and everything else disappeared. I found bliss within. Nothing mattered. I was safe and the cacophony of sounds melded into sublime surrender.

A few minutes later the gentleman offered me assistance and led me hand in hand to the registration table. He proceeded to secure me a ticket to the event when a woman greeted him warmly... "Krishna Das," a big kiss followed, " Namaste. Oh, I figured it out. It was Krishna Das who was holding my hand and leading me to safety. Funny how life works...

My girlfriend asked me how it all happened? According to the Law of Attraction, I shouldn't have gotten a ticket because all I kept thinking was, " I'm outta here!"

Yet a door opened and I took the opportunity to exit, which allowed me to enter a new realm of divine intervention. The assistance, the support... Maybe it does comes from sublime surrender.

Oh, and the a final note:
I hooked up with a friend and we entered a side door of the church because she is healing a leg injury. In the first pew was Krishna Das's travel mate from India, my friend, Ram Giri.

A big hello, hug, warm wishes and an invitation to sit in the front row. YES, I said with my friend and her husband in agreement that this would be a good place for me to sit... sublime surrender, kick ass kirtan and a whole lotta of love.

What a great Valentine's Day ... and did you know ... The moon was in the 7th house and Jupiter aligned with Mars?